Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis
- Common Names
- Lemon Balm , Melissa
- Botanical Name
- Melissa officinalis
Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Lemon Balm
- Medicinal Uses: * Anxiety
* Herbal Teas
* Herpes/Cold Sores
* Insect/flea Bites
* Sore Throat
- Properties: * Anodyne * Antidepressant * Antispasmodic * AntiViral * Aromatic * Cordial * Diaphoretic/sudorific * Emmenagogue * Febrifuge * Hypotensive * Nervine * Sedative * Stomachic * Uterine Tonic
- Parts Used: whole herb
- Constituents: volatile oils (citral, citronellal, eugenol acetate, geraniol and other components), polyphenols, tannin, flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, triterpenoids
How to Use: Lemon Balm
Herbalists refer to the plant as lemon balm, aromatherapists use the botanical name melissa, both refer to the same plant, Melissa officinalis. Lemon balm is an aromatic mint with a venerable reputation for having calming properties. Lemon balm can be very helpful for those times when nerves, headaches and/or mild depression are preventing you from relaxing and getting a good nights sleep. Combined with valerian, it may even be more beneficial than many prescription sleep aids.(Balch, Phyllis A.) Lemon balm's sedative and analgesic properties make it a favorite remedy for women having cramping, painful periods or any kind of stomach upset.
Lemon balm has antibacterial and antiviral properties, and like all of it's mint family relatives, a cup of hot lemon balm tea induces perspiration to help break a fever making the herb useful for treating colds and flu. Lemon balm extracts are also effective against herpes, cold sores and mumps viruses. (Duke, pp139) A concentrated extract of Melisa is sold in Europe for the treatment of core sores, herpes HSV-1 and HSV-2, genital herpes. (Robbers, James E. ,PhD, Tyler, Varro E. PhD,ScD, pp 228-229)
Preparation Methods & Dosage :Lemon balm Leaf tea, extracts, and the essential oil, melissa are all commonly used. Lemon balm is used to flavor chicken and fish, use it in any recipes that call for a lemon type seasoning.
Lemon Balm Remedies
Lemon Balm : Essential Oil Profile
Lemon balm leaves are the source of a pale yellow oil with a light, fresh lemony aroma. Powerful and soothing, melissa oil can have a sedative effect even in minute concentrations.
In the Kitchen: Lemon balm is used to flavor chicken and fish, use it in any recipes that call for a lemon type seasoning.
Lush lemon balm leaves
- Plant Class: Perennial
- Etymology: Balm short for balsam -The sweet smelling oils
- Flowers/Fruit/Seeds:Clusters of small yellow flowers in the axils of the leaves
- Parts used: Leaves, flowers, essential oil
- Leaves:Opposite,heart shaped leaves with serrated edges,give off a heady lemon scent when bruised, and have a delicate lemon flavor
- Flowering Season:June to August
- Distribution:widely grown in the Mediterranean and France and over much of the eastern and central US. Prefers warm climates.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
Lemon balm grows easily from seed, and is not fussy about soil. If you allow it to go to seed, you will find lemon balm coming up in unexpected places the next year. Like all mint relatives, it likes a bit of shade from the hot afternoon sun. You can propagate by taking cuttings from vigorous growth in the summer, or by root division in the spring and fall. Harvest leaves all summer by pinching the topmost growth, this will help the plant bush out and not be so lanky.
History and Traditions & FolkloreMelissa was known as Melisphyllon, honey leaf, to the ancient Arab physicians who prescribed it for melancholy. Melissa was an ingredient in the famous Carmelite water of medieval Paris. (Walji 112)
“Formerly, a spirit of balm, combined with lemon peel, nutmeg, and angelica-root, enjoyed a great reputation as a restorative cordial under the name of Carmelite water. Paracelsus thought so highly of balm that he believed it would completely revivify a man, as primum ens melissoe. The London Dispensatory of 1696 said: "The essence of balm given in Canary wine every morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain, relieve languishing nature, and prevent baldness."” (Fernie, W. T. M.D.)
- Balch, Phyllis A. CNC. "Prescription for Herbal Healing" Avery, (2002) A double-blind study of twenty people with insomnia compared the benefits of 0.125 milligrams of the sedative triazolam (Hal-cion) against placebo and a combination of valerian and lemon balm. The herbal combination was found to be as effective as the drug.